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spouse of an addict

5 Tips For Coping When You’re The Spouse Of An Addict

Lifeguard training 101.

There are two small steps critical to passing every emergency test scenario.

Many have had to re-take entire courses because they forget these two, vital components.

Dramatic rescue situations can make it difficult to remember important details. Tests with multiple-person saves or anything involving head, neck and back injuries require special procedures.

Nervous trainees tend to jump in the water at a swimmer’s first sign of distress. The moment they do, they fail the test.

What crucial steps are they missing? And what does this have to do with being the spouse of an addict?

So glad you asked.

Living as the Spouse of an Addict: The Missing Details that Cost Survival

Every team of aquatic directors has what’s known as an emergency action plan (EAP). A group of knowledgeable people put this plan together so that in the event of an emergency, a simple signal from a lifeguard activates an entire chain of events.

One person clears patrons out of harm’s way, while another helps with the rescue, while another stands by the phone ready to call an ambulance, while another comforts the families of the loved one in crisis, while another grabs the first aid kit… you get the picture.

If a lifeguard fails to give the EAP signal before a rescue commences, he/she is putting themselves and the lives of their patrons at great risk.

The second important detail starts as a sad truth. Drowning people are notorious killers.

It doesn’t matter how well a lifeguard can swim. If a panicked swimmer grabs hold of someone without a flotation device, they’re both going down!

This analogy is full of significance and translates almost effortlessly to situations involving loved-ones who struggle with addiction.

Let’s unpack some of this rich application together.

1. Community: Your EAP

When a spouse or loved one is struggling with addiction, it is vital to have a close, trustworthy community of at least 2 or more people.

One common theme of addiction is that it is closely linked to cycles of untruths. Often, lies told by the one struggling become so thick that the person telling them cannot even keep track of what is true.

The spouses of such persons will need consistent reminders of truth as the one struggling will try to cover up or make excuses for their decisions to engage in addictive behaviors.

The one struggling will often view your confiding in a friend or community as a betrayal. It will be difficult to convince them otherwise.

Be prepared for this, and be both gentle and unrelenting that it is your right to pull your support systems close during difficult times.

If you have trustworthy friends with whom you are comfortable sharing intimate truths, wonderful! You already know who to call.

However, married couples tend to isolate when times get rough. Perhaps you have pushed everyone away in your attempt to protect your loved one and hide from the unhappy truths that daily knock at your door.

Fortunately, there are many resources to choose from. Support groups, confidential online chatrooms, and meetings within spiritual organizations serve as places to process communally.

2. A Clear Commitment to Personal Health

Drowning people were given a pretty strong bad-rap in the first section. Of course, no one would consciously ask the person they love to die with them.

But when someone is panicked and drowning, they only have one thought.

“Keep your head above water at all cost.”

Through a commitment to personal health and wellness, you extend the “life tube” of hope to someone drowning in addiction.

To approach the situation any other way is to elongate the amount of time that the addiction persists. You enable the addiction when it is possible for your spouse to have both you and the addictive substance/process simultaneously.

As your loved-one goes through the process of rehab, they will need your affirmation and support. If you have neglected your own personal health, you will be incapable of constructive support when it is most useful.

Throughout the process, welcome your loved-one into your commitment to health.

“Hey babe, I am going on a jog. Would you like to join me?” or “I’m choosing not to stay inside this evening. Would you like to go on a double date with your friends?”

If he/she makes a decision not to join you, that is entirely their choice, but you have already behaved in a way that welcomes them into your healthy space.

Write up a regimen. Call an accountability partner. Does the day transform from gloomy to sunny after you’ve spent a good hour at the gym? Go daily.

Is your soul titillated when you read a well-written book? Excellent! Hide away four times a week and read.

This section on good health would be incomplete without addressing tears.

Contrary to popular belief, crying is healthy. Cry as much as you can; it is the farthest thing from weakness.

Your tears are a sign of deep grief, empathy, and often anger that things are not as they should be.

Friend, if your loved one is suffering under the weight of addiction, things are not as they should be. It is not the way of love to accept them as such. So, wear your tears proudly.

Fun fact: tears are our bodies natural way of processing and expelling the emotions discussed above. Stuff your tears and you will carry them until you cry them.

3. Know the Possible Outcomes Ahead of Time

Addiction effects marriage in cruel and decisive ways. It takes two people who have made commitments of honesty and vulnerability and makes a mockery of their commitment.

One of the first things a person will do when they believe their spouse is lying is check their husband/wife’s phone.

If they find nothing, they experience a mix of guilt and relief.

If they find their suspicions are true, they feel guilt and justified anger.

Save yourself the guilt! Become an expert in your spouse’s struggle, no snooping involved.

Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, or pornography, addiction tends to follow predictable patterns.

Know the substances, the processes, and the different stages involved.

It is a mercy to your spouse if you are aware of where their struggle with addiction might lead. It may also help take the sting out of your being shocked by their behavior.

Part of the rehab process at most treatment centers is confessing one’s addiction behavior to spouses and lloved ones

It can serve as another form of self-care and protection to already have a good guess of where your spouse’s struggle has taken them before their moment of confession arrives.

4. Avoid Shaming Comments and Behavior

Think about addiction for a moment.

How many children do you know who are considering a life of addiction when they grow up?

It’s an absurd thought. No one desires a life of addiction.

If you were to ask anyone who is struggling with an addiction if this is the life they truly want for themselves? No one in a position of genuine vulnerability would say “yes.”

The truth is, addiction most naturally springs from places of deep shame. Layering shame on top of it will only bury the source deeper and increase a spouse’s appetite for the comforting addictive substance/process.

Decide as soon as possible, is health your aim? Or is it more important to save face?

It will be difficult when friends and acquaintances learn the truth of what is going on. Long sessions of rehab are particularly precarious to avoid in conversation.

There are endless sources of shame vying for the attention of your spouse, refuse to join the throng.

5. Understand that it Takes Time

Have you ever been awed by the power of a large waterfall?

They all begin as tiny streams that could be easily dammed or diverted.

When looking at a small stream, it seems absurd to think that one day it could become a Niagara Falls changing the shape of the earth the river below and eating a cliff into the rock and sediment beneath it!

This is the power of repetition.

Cycles of addiction function in the same manner.

Think of the brain activity as the water in the stream. What begins as a few small choices can end in a situation completely outside the addict’s actual ability to stop… without major reconstruction.

No one who pops a few small white pills ever imagines one day they’ll shoot poison into their veins for relief.

No one who throws up that second piece of cake imagines that one day they won’t be able to hold down a spinach salad.

Know what to expect with addiction, rehab, and possible relapse.

Addiction changes brains. It takes large amounts of time and radical re-positioning to find a different path that the “water” will be more apt to take.

Ready to find a Rehab Center?

The spouse of addict can have peace of mind when their loved one is at Pathways Treatment and Recovery Center in Florida. They have a variety of treatment program options, and their experts are committed to helping clients find wholeness and stability.

Check out what we treat and send us a message for more information.

how to spot an alcoholic

How To Spot An Alcoholic: An In-Depth Guide

According to research conducted in 2015, 15.1 million adults in the United States are alcoholics. Over a quarter of all adults have also admitted to binge drinking within the past month. However, how to spot an alcoholic isn’t always straightforward.

Many people picture alcoholics as those who are unable to live another life. Images of homeless individuals or someone unable to attend work because of their addiction is often what comes to mind. But this isn’t always the case.

Alcoholism isn’t just an addiction; it can be deadly. The same 2015 research stated that alcoholism is the third most common preventable death in the United States. The first two are obesity and tobacco.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the tell-tale signs of alcoholism. Many of them extend beyond what is typically associated with classic signs and symptoms.

How to Spot an Alcoholic: Lying About Behaviors

This can be a tricky one, as some alcoholics not only defy stereotypes, but also hold down jobs, marriages, and other relationships while being heavily addicted.

One big sign of alcoholism is lying about alcohol consumption. Although it can be difficult to monitor this in an adult, many family members will notice things over time that clue them in.

You may notice, for example, that alcohol in the house goes missing often, though no one admits to having drunk it. They may also see someone consuming large amounts of alcohol or see them drinking in excess when no one else is drinking.

Later, the same person who observed this behavior may notice that the alcoholic in question told someone they know that this behavior either never took place or that they drank far less than they actually did.

Deceit is a very common problem in addictions or dangerous disorders. It is prevalent amongst those who also suffer from drug addictions, eating disorders and other detrimental habits.

Drinking at Inappropriate Times

While we touched on drinking heavily when no one else is around, there are also other times when drinking may be a problem. An alcoholic might hide alcohol in other containers and drink throughout the day at work or school, for example.

They may also add alcohol to other drinks throughout the day, such as in their coffee or tea. While this is okay every once in a while, it is worrisome when it becomes a daily habit.

They may also drink in situations that they know could lead to danger, such as while caring for their children, operating heavy machinery or while driving. These potentially dangerous behaviors should be addressed immediately, as they can put other people’s lives at risk.

Many alcohol-dependent people drink at inappropriate times not only because they are mentally dependent, but have become physically dependent. Detoxing from alcohol can take a long time. It can also produce unwanted physical symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal can happen just a few hours after the person has had their last drink. Symptoms include anxiety, headache, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. Some people who have been drinking for a long period of time may also experience seizures or hallucinations.

Typically, these symptoms go away once the body stops becoming dependent on alcohol. However, as these symptoms can get in the way of daily life, staving them off with more alcohol is common.

Developing a High Tolerance for Alcohol

Some people feel drunk or slightly buzzed after one or two drinks. Alcoholics have built up a tolerance for its effects, just like people build up a tolerance to medications. A person who is highly dependent on alcohol might be able to down many more beers or spirits than most other people without it seeming to affect them.

Mood Swings

Alcohol has a tendency to lower inhibitions. This is why security is out in full force in most locations where alcohol is present and people are likely to drink in excess.

However, if some is drinking in excess habitually, their behavior may become irrational, angry or even scary more often than usual.

Mood swings may come in the form of yelling at a spouse, relative, child or friend. Some may be physically aggressive, which is why alcohol often plays a role in abusive situations.

Other alcohol-dependent people may become weepy or emotional about situations in their lives. For many, this is not a usual behavior trait when they do not drink.

Most alcoholics have mood swings that switch very quickly from one extreme to the other. This can obviously be difficult for friends and family members trying to live with or support the person.

Becoming Flaky or Unreliable

Alcoholics can increasingly become unreliable as the problem worsens. Though it is important to note that this does not happen to everyone.

Some people erroneously believe that someone does not have an issue with alcohol if they don’t have attendance issues or are able to follow through on their commitments with friends and family.

This does not mean that some alcoholics don’t fall into this trap. Many times people stop showing up to places, including their work because they are hungover. Sometimes, they may be embarrassed because of their behavior under the influence and having to face those individuals again.

In some instances, alcoholics may avoid a situation simply so that they can stay home (or at another venue) and drink.

Often, they will be difficult to get ahold of. They may cancel plans at the very last minute, or simply not show up. Many will find it difficult to get in touch with them after they’ve neglected responsibilities, as not answering the phone or front door can also be a sign something is wrong.

Only Showing Up at Events Where There is Alcohol

If someone has a severe problem with drinking, they will resort to drinking at inappropriate times, as discussed above. Because of this, some may want to hide their inappropriate drinking by only showing up to events that are serving alcohol.

If the person in question is suddenly missing out on children’s birthday parties, work, school or dining at places that don’t serve alcohol, but always shows up at weddings or family gatherings involving substances, this can be a warning sign.

Avoiding Responsibilities

While we have discussed the inability to show up for events, school, work or other meetings, often other responsibilities are neglected. This can include not paying bills, not cleaning the house, neglecting children or animals, shirking off doctor or dental appointments and many others.

Some people with severe alcoholism may find it difficult to leave the house. This can be due to a variety of factors but also falls into the category of avoiding daily tasks.

Neglecting Appearance

Neglecting your appearance is a common issue with mental health decline. Someone who is very deep into their addiction may fail to wash for days, stop combing their hair, changing their clothes or even showering. They may have laundry piled up they haven’t done and wear dirty clothes instead.

Blacking Out

Most people have experienced a binge drinking blackout when they don’t remember what happened the night before after excessive alcohol consumption. This can be one of the earlier signs of alcoholism. When blacking out, people may consume even more alcohol than they intended and not even remember.

Memory blackouts can also lead to very dangerous behavior, including driving, biking or operating a motorcycle under the influence. This can, of course, not only put the person’s life at risk but also other people’s.

Clashing with the Police

As mentioned earlier, problematic drinking behavior can create aggression. Someone who is dependent on alcohol may drink in excess and not care about the consequences.

This can mean they have collected several citations for things like driving under the influence or disorderly conduct.

Often, these citations and fines do very little to curb their behavior. This is because they have become so dependent, they no longer care about the real world consequences of their behavior.

Unable to Maintain Relationships

Many alcoholics are unable to maintain relationships with their spouse, partner or family members. This is because they focus on alcohol over the other person. Often, the relationships become damaged, sometimes irreparably, because of the excessive drinking.

What to Do If You’ve Spotted This Behavior in a Friend or Family Member

If you’ve read this list of how to spot an alcoholic and feel this describes someone you know, it is important to find ways to encourage the person to receive treatment. While it may not be easy to get them there, rehab facilities are best equipped to deal with the reasons behind heavy drinking.

Visit our website for resources and programs to help intervene if you or a loved one are experiencing alcohol dependency.

All About Recovery: 12 Things To Know Before Enntering Rehab

all about recovery

Are you or a loved one struggling with a drug addiction?

You’re not alone. Over 20 million Americans regularly use or are addicted to, drugs. Your interest in rehab is already a positive first step. Entering into a program can be a life-changing decision. With that, can come the fear of the unknown.

We’ve laid out 12 tips, all about recovery, that can help you prepare for rehab and know what to expect.

Be Sure the Rehab Deals with Your Specific Addiction

It goes without saying that you’ll want to thoroughly research any rehab you plan to enter. If you’re not in a position to do this, ask a family member or friend to do the legwork.

Many programs offer targeted treatment for specific drug use. The type of detox and recovery path you’ll be taking will vary, for example, if you’re abusing opioids as opposed to a sedative. The more targeted the approach, the more likely recovery is in your future.

You’ll be frustrated to enter a clinic only to find a generalized recovery program because addiction and it’s treatment methods are not one-size-fits-all.

See What Your Insurance Will Cover

Rehab costs can add up quickly so it’s important to make arrangements beforehand so you know what you’re entering into financially and see if there are ways to receive help with payment.

While they likely won’t cover it all, many insurance plans will help with at least a portion of the clinic payment and this could be a game changer when it comes to selecting the right program and length of time you’ll want to stay.

Be sure to ask if the program you’re interested takes in insurance as well. Some don’t and so you may want to shop around until you find one that does.

Furthermore, if you’re employed fulltime, be sure to check your companies handbook for rules regarding medical leave. Some companies may continue to pay your salary during this time but there will be applications and paperwork you’ll need to fill out with Human Resources in order to sure you get it.

Ask All About Recovery & How the Clinic Handles Detoxing

Clinics will be happy to answer questions about what happens once admitted and how the detox process works. Depending on what drug you or your loved one is addicted to, the withdrawal process can be severe.

Withdrawal happens when a person stops taking a drug or substance their body is dependent on. It can result in nausea, vomiting, fever, confusion, and dizziness among other symptoms. Many clinics handle this process differently.

At some treatment centers, there is a weaning process, where the drug is tapered down in order to curb some of the withdrawal symptoms and minimize illness and suffering. Other places force you to stop the drug completely and at once.

Remember Addiction Is a Disease

As you or your loved one embark on the recovery process, it’s important not to put blame on the person with the addiction. Addiction is a disease of the brain, just like any other disease that infiltrates the body.

Because many people view drug abuse as a choice, the fact that it’s a disease is often lost and people feel like failures or as though they’ve done something wrong.

At the end of the day, the choice to use is yours but it’s imperative to approach healing with the awareness that you will always have a to fight the disease, in order to remain clean.

You Will Never Be Cured

Be gentle and patient with yourself. Although you will hopefully become sober in treatment, keep in mind that your treatment will need to continue and that there is no “cure” for addiction.

It is an ongoing process and you will have to treat yourself as an addict forever, even though it will hopefully be as a recovered addict. This awareness is what will keep you on a clean path because you will be implementing the work you learn in rehab long after you’ve checked out.

There Is No Right Way to Recover

Everyone is different and responds differently to various treatment methods. It’s important to note that not every tool or step will be beneficial for every person. Some may respond to certain things positively and know they can’t remain sober without them, while those same tools may be irrelevant for others.

That’s okay. If something isn’t working for you, don’t judge it or get frustrated with yourself or the process. Simply acknowledge that this may not be a powerful tool for you and your recovery and move on to trying something else.

Life After May Be More Challenging Than Rehab Itself

During your time in rehab, you will hopefully make significant strides in your effort toward recovery. It’s the most important and valuable first step but it’s just that, the first step.

Many people find the safety and routine of rehab to be comforting and the thing that keeps them on a positive path forward. When this tool is gone and you’re out in the real world, the work you must do to stay sober can become more challenging.

You aren’t working with the same counselors or doctors and the group of people you have met in rehab is no longer around. Don’t give up. Knowing the challenges of entering the real world after rehab can prepare you for it so you’re ready to remain sober after you check out.

You Will Have to Make More Changes

While in treatment, you will be urged in your work to think about what lifestyle changes need to be made once you’re back in the real world. Whatever you were doing before; places you hung out, people you were friends with, etc., clearly wasn’t working to help keep you sober. They will likely have to change or be reconsidered.

You’ll need to take inventory of the way you live, the things you do for fun, the people you hang out with and more, in order to determine what can stay and what or who, needs to go. Some of these people and places will be triggers that could challenge your sobriety, so you’ll want to avoid them at all costs once you’re back to your regular life.

Watch for Replacement Addictions

As we mentioned above, addiction is a disease of the brain. This means that while you may be able to stop using drugs, that drug could possibly be replaced by something else negative.

Once they’ve stopped their drug use, many addicts take up smoking. This is a common replacement that is, of course, terrible for you. People may find themselves diving into toxic sexual relationships, excessively gambling, becoming heavy shoppers and more.

Addictive behavior can manifest in many ways other than drug use. Keep an eye on your loved one to see if a substitute is taking place.

It’s Okay to Grieve

You know you’re getting better but with that, you are losing something that has been with you for some time. Allow yourself to grieve that loss. For many addicts, their drug has become their best friend, their closest confidant and the thing that has allowed them to function for however long they’ve been using.

With that loss comes the loss of what people deem as “having fun”. There is often a sense that the fun of life is over now that you’re sober, you’ll never get to feel the way you’ve loved feeling ever again.

Grieving this loss is healthy and natural. You are saying a proper goodbye to something that has been a part of you for so long. Grieving it will also help you move on and leave it behind.

Your Social Life Will Change

More likely than not, the people you surrounded yourself with while you were using are not going to be the people you want to be around once sober. Are these the people you partied with? Used with? Even the people who got you the drugs in the first place?

While some of these people may be close friends, if they use or were with you while you were using and enabled you, you’ll want to cut ties or at least create a significant distance. It may be hard at first for them to understand but if they love you and are truly supportive or your recovery, they will. If not, you shouldn’t be around them anyway.

Relapse Is a Re-Start, Not an End

You are fighting a disease and relapsing is very common. Don’t get down on yourself, blame yourself or believe this is the end of the road for you and you’re doomed to a lifetime of drug use.

Take the relapse as a moment to restart; acknowledge the slip-up, seek further treatment, either with rehab or meetings and get back on your path. The longer you dwell on the relapse or beat yourself up about it, the more precious work and time you’re taking away from your recovery.

Try to Keep an Open Mind

Now that you’ve read all about recovery, you’re ready to take the big first step and enter rehab. Remember that you’re seeking treatment and that is the best thing you can do to take care of yourself.

Be patient and kind to yourself and do your best to enter the program with an open mind.

If you’d like more information about our various treatment programs, please contact us today and visit our blog for more useful information.

How Are Short-Term Detox Programs Different From Rehab?

detox programs

Have you recently come to the conclusion that you or a loved one needs help with their addiction? Realizing the need for help is a huge step, deciding what to do next is equally as important.

If you’re new to the world of treatment centers, detox, aftercare, and similar facilities, you might be concerned with choosing the right fit. That is okay and to be expected.

In fact, many people experience great anxiety over deciding to get clean, choosing a facility and what lies ahead.

The best thing to do is what you’re doing currently–research the differences between detox programs and drug rehabs. This will make your decision easier as well as informed.

Keep reading for more information to help choose which type of facility is right for you or your loved one!

Benefits of Detox Programs

Both detox programs and rehab centers have benefits. It is important to discuss each of these benefits as well as their drawbacks to paint a full picture of each type of facility.

The first benefit of entering a detox-only program is the cost. If you or your loved one has health insurance, the majority of it should be covered by the plan. Even if this cost is minimally covered, a detox hospital is still far cheaper than a full-blown inpatient treatment.

If health insurance isn’t available, the cost of a detox center is going to be far cheaper than even choosing an outpatient program.

Something else to consider is the time factor. Detox programs are typically around three days to one week. This means less time missed from work, family, and life in general.

For single parents, it could be difficult to find a babysitter or nanny for an entire month away. With detox units, this problem is almost eliminated.

Probably the best thing about going through an actual detox program (not doing it yourself, at home) is the fact that there is a full staff of doctors and nurses.

These people aren’t there to pass judgment, criticize choices, or lecture you on drugs. They’re there to help ease the pain of drugs leaving your system.

The staff will administer the correct medications to ensure the physical detox is as comfortable as possible, take vital signs, and watch for any signs of complications. These complications can include seizures, dehydration, and even fever, all of which can be deadly.

12-step groups are also known to make visits to detox units. These groups hold meetings for the patients to get them acquainted with the different programs available. This is an excellent source of information for those that don’t have the time, resources or want to attend an inpatient rehab.

Benefits of Choosing a Rehab

If this is the first time you’ve dealt with treatment centers, detox, or any type of program of this nature, a rehab might be a good choice. Many rehab centers offer a medical detox program included with the cost.

Similar to detox, the cost of a rehab could be covered by insurance. However, choosing a rehab will cost time. Once you’ve entered an inpatient program, you’re there for 28 days or longer.

Although 28 days seems like a long time and a lot of work missed, it actually can be a great foundation for your recovery. While inpatient, you’ll receive therapy and counseling for addiction and any co-occurring disorders.

Staying at a rehab includes access to medical staff like doctors and nurses, as well as clinicians like psychiatrists, licensed professional counselors, and social workers. There is also the benefit of communication with other patients that have been there for a while who can relate to what you’re going through.

Rehab facilities have different types of treatment including those that are 12-step based, faith-based, or holistic. Regardless of the type of rehab you choose, you will gain a great foundation in that recovery.

You might be worried about not seeing your loved ones for an extended period of time. Usually, after the first week, you are allowed phone contact as well as visits from them on certain days.

While in a rehab treatment center, it’s likely that you’ll form bonds with other patients. This is often encouraged although with restrictions. Many times the people you’re in treatment with will end up at the same meetings once released.

It may seem odd, but this gives a sense of friendship and community when you’re new to the recovery world.

Finally, if you’re a foodie and love to eat, rehab has some great, healthy food! While in active addiction, people deprive their bodies of the proper sustenance they need to function. Rehabs take care to feed their patients healthy and delicious food to further their recovery.

Drawbacks of Choosing Detox Only

Detox is less expensive than rehab and does a great job at helping an addict or alcoholic remove the toxins and drugs from their body. However, detox units can’t keep a patient long enough to teach them how to live sober.

Unfortunately, because of the short period of time spent, patients don’t have the time to get to know other people further in their recovery. This short amount of time also doesn’t allow any other mental disorders to be diagnosed or treated.

Drug detox programs can also be a haven of sorts for addicts who have no intention of getting clean but are on the outs with their family. For those that are trying to better their lives, these types can throw a wrench in the plans.

Finally, detox units are often in a hospital setting. This often means hospital food… and while nutritious, it isn’t always the best tasting.

The Problem With Rehabs

Drug rehabs are great in many ways, but they do pull the patient away from their family and work for about one month. This can be worth it if the patient decides to live by what is taught and remain sober.

However, many times this isn’t the case. After the first treatment, many addicts see a second and third trip to the facility. This is an expense that adds up quickly. If the patient decides to leave against medical advice, insurance often doesn’t pay for it.

Mentioned earlier was the fact that you’ll meet other people that will probably be at the same meetings or functions. While this is great, relapse does happen. Being friends with people you went to rehab with is great, but can also put you at risk for relapse.

This isn’t to say that rehabs are bad or that they don’t work, just that forcing an addict into one doesn’t often go as planned.

There is no Real ‘Winner’

No matter which type of facility you check into, there isn’t truly a right or wrong choice. Overall, rehabs and detox units have many, many benefits and picking one or the other is about finding the right fit for the person and situation.

Many people don’t want to spend a month or longer away from their family. Some already have a foundation in recovery and just slipped up for an extended period of time. Other patients might not have access to the amount of money needed for the co-payment on a rehab. These are all great fits for a short-term detox hospital.

On the opposite hand, addicts and alcoholics that haven’t been to a rehab facility before may benefit from the in-depth education they receive on addiction. Likewise, if they can afford to miss work, and haven’t been introduced to the recovery community (12-step, etc) they may find that choosing a rehab fits their needs.

Oftentimes, rehabs include the patient’s family. This added part can mean that the family learns about addiction, how not to enable the addict, boundary setting, and even some counseling between the patient and family members.

Again, because a detox hospital only keeps the patient for a short amount of time, the family counseling doesn’t happen. Although this therapy might be helpful in some settings, it isn’t always.

Some patients have burned all bridges to their families. Other families enable the addict because of their own addictions. Sometimes those relationships are just too far gone to be helped in that short amount of time.

Final Thoughts

There is no 100% right answer on if detox programs or rehabs are the better choice for an addict or alcoholic. Each case and each patient are different.

If you feel strongly that one is better for your or your loved one over the other, consider talking to several facilities and detox hospitals. There is also always the option to admit into a detox hospital and further decide on a treatment facility.

You should also note that many treatment facilities also offer a medical detox program that leads directly into the rehab once you’re feeling better.

Regardless as to what your choice is, you’re getting yourself or your loved one help. That is truly something to be proud of.

When you’re ready to start your life again and make a decision on which type of facility is best for you, contact us!

10 Tips To Help Convince an Alcoholic Family Member to Go to Rehab

Depressed drunk man holding a drink and sleeping with his head on the table (Focused on the drink, his face is out of focus)

The person you love most in this world is an addict. You’re not exactly sure how it happened. But one day you clicked. All the signs you thought were only present in movies, became reality.

As much as you urged them to go to rehab- nothing seems to work. And it feels like the more you insist that they go, the stronger the resistance.

At this point, you’re left powerless and wondering: “Can you force someone to go to rehab?”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15.1 million adults have alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder or AUD is the result of heavy drinking that continues over a period of time.

You shouldn’t lose hope for your loved one. But if you find it difficult to get them to rehab, here are 10 ways to encourage an alcoholic family member or friend to get treatment.

10 Ways To Encourage An Alcoholic Family Member To Go To Rehab

If you haven’t noticed it by now, you’ll soon realize that addicts are really good at denying their addiction. So what do you do when an alcoholic family member refuses to get help?

Here are some helpful tips.

1. Involuntary Commitment

With the help of a lawyer, you’re able to get the right help for an alcoholic family member or friend. After 2011, 38 out of the 50 states made it legally possible to court-order treatment for those who are struggling with alcohol abuse.

One of the downsides of these court orders is the lengthy process. Between hiring the right lawyers and attaining the proper documents, you can find yourself waiting a while. But once these documents are processed, you are able to help your family/friend find the help they need.

2. Hold An Intervention

Holding an intervention is extremely helpful when it comes to encouraging an alcoholic family member or friend to go to rehab. It doesn’t necessarily force the struggling family member, but it does provide a sense of pressure.

If you’re unfamiliar, an intervention is going to consist of a structured meeting where the friends and family of the alcoholic express what they’ve noticed about the alcoholic family member’s recent behavior.

It is not recommended that you perform an intervention with less than 3 people. Because this is a vulnerable process, the alcoholic family member can feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame that can, in turn, cause a negative reaction.

Keep in mind that interventions come with a certain level of vulnerability. So be certain that only trusted family and friends are present.

3. Allow Crisis

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pain is the most effective teacher”? It’s true. Some of life’s most beautiful lessons happen at the end of the messiest crisis’.

But let’s be honest. No one ever wants to see their loved one suffer. And watching an alcoholic family member go through this kind life crisis, hurts. But in reality, allowing them to lose their job, get a DUI, or be thrown in jail can really put things into perspective for them.

It’s in these moments of involuntary solitude, an alcoholic family member is able to reorder their priorities and gain perspective.

Yes, this process is extremely difficult, especially if you’re being asked to sit back and watch. Fortunately, there are support groups that will help family and friends learn how to detach while allowing the crisis to take place.

4. Don’t Allow Unacceptable Behavior

While we recommend that you allow the crisis to happen, we do remind friends and family members not to condone unacceptable behavior.

It’s about finding balance.

So if you find yourself using verbiage such as “They just had too much to drink” or “He/She just had a rough week at work”- you are enabling the addict to continue their behavior. And if behaviors like this aren’t addressed promptly, you’ll find it get worse as time goes on.

The result of accepting unacceptable behavior is abuse. Endless relationships, whether relational or platonic, escalate to physical and narcissistic abuse. It’s important to protect children from this kind of behavior because not only does it put them in danger, but it damages their psyche over the years to come.

5. Have Reasonable Expectations

Once your loved one has agreed to get treatment, there are certain boundaries that you have to set for yourself in order to continue to promote progress for your alcoholic family member.

One of these boundaries? Setting realistic expectations.

An alcoholic family member will swear to you that they will never drink another ounce of alcohol before, after, and post-treatment. And while you’re naturally inclined to believe them – this sets an unrealistic expectation for the struggling addict.

Think about it. If someone has formed an addictive habit, how probable is it that they would leave cold turkey?

In order to avoid negative outcomes such as disappointment and shame, encourage your alcohol family member to take it one day at a time. Remind them that you are there for them even during their shortcomings.

6. Don’t Take It Personally

This step is going to be essential if you want to successfully encourage an alcoholic family member to go to rehab. Unfortunately, a lot of hopeful family members take their loved ones shortcomings to heart.

When you begin to think that the addict is personally attacking you or personally lying to you, you’ll begin reacting in ways that are counter-productive to the progression that has been made.

Now more than ever you need to be understanding. When someone is truly struggling with addiction, their brain chemistry is bound to changing and the decisions they make aren’t always theirs.

7. Don’t Fall Into The Mistake Of Living In The Past

Let’s face it. When trying to bring an alcoholic family member to rehab, there are tons of negative emotions that bombard them even if they’re not vocal about it.

If your ultimate goal is to get them to a treatment center where they actually complete the process, you’re going to have to leave the past behind. As tempting as it might be to continue to bring up their past mistakes, this could be discouraging.

8. Research The Right Treatment Options

One of the most important steps when successfully trying to get an alcoholic family member to stay in rehab is finding the right treatment options. With so many facilities to choose from, how do you know which one to choose?

Here at Pathways, we understand that each patient is different and this is why we offer various treatment options. We care about the patient and customize each treatment plan according to their place of need.

Here are some treatment options you might want to consider:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential treatment (28 days)
  • Residential extended care
  • Transition Housing
  • Outpatient care
  • Medically assisted treatment

Once we’re able to further evaluate the necessities of your alcoholic family member, we’ll come up with a treatment plan that they will be comfortable with.

9. Aftercare Is Equally As Important

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When trying to convince an alcoholic family member to check into rehab, you’re going to notice that explaining the steps in the treatment process is going to play in your favor.

Rehab forces the alcoholic to put their full trust into the unknown and this could be extremely frightening. Informing them of your game plan ahead of time can relieve them from this kind of anxiety.

Assemble a meeting with your alcoholic family member or friend. Tell them about the pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment stages so that they are able to walk into these next stages confidently.

10. Don’t Cover It Up/Enable Them

One common habit of alcoholics is requesting close friends “not to tell anyone”. While this may seem like you’re gaining a sense of confidence with them, this could be extremely detrimental at the end.

If you are serious about wanting your loved one to check into rehab, the first step is guiding them to admit they have a problem. Once they are able to come to reach these

Let Us Help You Find Your Path To Recovery

One of the hardest battles to go through is helping an alcoholic family member, but thankfully you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Pathways, we provide step-by-step instructions on how to make the recovery process an easy one.

With various treatment programs as well as endless resources, our treatment and recovery center excels at helping people find hope after abuse of the following substances:

Addiction isn’t a choice. So whether you or someone you know currently struggles with substance abuse, let us help. Our team of professionals tailors each program to the patient’s specific need.

Have questions about your next step? Be sure to contact us and let us help you get on the right pathway to recovery.

What is a High Functioning Addict? How to Spot the Signs

high functioning addict

When the subject of addiction comes up, many people immediately jump to the stereotypes. They tend to imagine the down-and-out derelict or the flamboyant rock-bottom moments we see on TV. The truth of the matter is more complex.

The image of all addicts displaying these very drastic sign is just another myth. In reality, there is a very good chance that someone who struggles with addiction is a high functioning addict.

What is a High Functioning Addict?

High functioning addicts are people who are addicted to a substance but still project an outward appearance of normalcy.

Functioning addicts eschew the stereotype of someone who has completely lost control of their life. Almost all are steadily employed, and many even enjoy high degrees of professional success. Many even maintain active social lives and successfully hide their addictions from those closest to them.

But despite outward appearances, their struggles are both real and dangerous. Most high functioning addicts cannot sustain their habits indefinitely. Even those few who can still suffer damage to their health, relationships, and quality of life.

Functioning Addicts are Becoming More Common

Research seems to indicate that incidences of functional addiction are becoming more the norm. A 2007 study on alcohol abuse found that 19.5% of all U.S. alcoholics were considered “functioning”. That translates to about 4 million functional alcoholics.

Experts like Dr. Mark Willenbring, former Director of Recovery Research at the NIAAA, have pointed out that the face of addiction has changed.

“Alcoholism isn’t what it used to be,” Dr. Willenbring explains. “We think of it as this really dramatic, debilitating disorder, but actually there is a wide range of alcoholism, from moderate drinking to at-risk drinking. Every alcoholic isn’t Mel Gibson or Lindsey Lohan–people who are really train wrecks.”

Instead, the signs of the functional addict tend to be more subtle, and the advancement of the addiction more incremental. As Dr. Willenbring explained further:

“Many high-functioners try to set limits but inevitably they go over them. They want to quit but they can’t. They might suffer from hangovers, insomnia, or heartburn, but they don’t experience the same life-disrupting problems that befall other addicts.”

While these studies and interviews examined alcoholics in particular, similar trends are found among other substance abusers.

Understanding that addiction can take many appearances is crucial to understanding a high functioning addict. Young, old, rich, or poor, addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Addiction in the Workplace

High functioning addicts are defined in part by their ability to maintain stable and successful careers. In fact, several high-powered and high-stress occupations have a tendency to foster addiction.

Emergency Healthcare Professionals

Doctors and nurses working in high-stress settings are at higher risk for drug abuse issues. Their intense work environments make drug use attractive. Their easy access to powerful medications make abuse feasible, sometimes to a tragic degree.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officials suffer drug and alcohol addiction at between two and three times the national average rate. The reasons for this are much the same as for healthcare professionals. The ready availability of drugs seized during operations and the high-stress nature of the job makes substance abuse an easy and attractive coping mechanism.

Lawyers

Research shows that lawyers suffer alcohol abuse at about twice the rate of the national average. While the study was less conclusive about rates of drug abuse, there is significant conjecture that rates are similarly problematic.

Anecdotal statements lay the blame on the long hours many lawyers work. Many lawyers will drink heavily to cope with the stress, only to turn around and use hard stimulants to maintain their focus.

These three examples illustrate the primary risk factor for developing a functioning addiction. The pressure to perform a difficult job efficiently can entice someone to cope with that stress in unhealthy ways. The temptation is only exacerbated by easy access to addictive substances.

Signs of a High Functioning Addict

High functioning addicts tend to be very good at hiding their problems. Many fear that if they are found out, their careers or reputations will suffer.

The facade is rarely ever perfect, however. Here are some signs of a high functioning addict:

Excuses and Denial

The most basic behavior that almost all addicts exhibit is denial. The only difference with a high functioning addict is that their denial may actually sound reasonable.

Many will justify their substance abuse by saying things like “I work hard, I deserve to have some fun once in a while.” This alone doesn’t sound outrageous. Many people like to unwind after a hard day’s work, so pressing the issue can leave one open to charges of hypocrisy.

Alternatively, they may specifically cite their work, saying things like “You need to drink/take drugs to do this job”. This is a more obvious red flag, as no job should require habitual substance abuse to be bearable.

In any case, breaking down these excuses often proves particularly challenging. Many high functioning addicts use them to convince themselves as much as anyone else.

Deteriorating Appearance

This sign usually appears during late-stage addiction. But as one of the more visible signs, it is an easy one to spot.

As the draining effects of addiction start to take their toll, you will likely notice that someone no longer takes care of their appearance. While one day they were neat and professional, the next they may appear shaggy and unkempt.

This is because as an addiction drags on, an addict’s physical health will suffer, and they will tend to have less energy to devote to their own upkeep. Look for disheveled clothes and poorly kept skin and hair. Women may compensate by overusing makeup to conceal their declining appearance.

Using More of a Substance than Intended

This sign on its own is not always indicative of a greater problem. Many people who only drink occasionally will go out for “one drink”, only to have that one become several. It becomes a problem when that scenario becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Addicts, by definition, are unable to control their substance intake. If someone seems otherwise normal but routinely overindulges, it may be a sign of a problem.

Isolation

This is another trait that tends to show itself in the late stages of addiction. It should be especially alarming if it is a significant deviation from their normal behavior.

If someone who used to be very active in their work, family, or community suddenly closes themselves off from others, that should be a red flag. As addictions progress, addicts will often only have time for getting their next dose. Everything else, including relationships, gets shoved to the back burner.

Enabling Relationships

This tends to be an issue for all addicts but is a particular problem for high functioning addicts. Addicts tend to congregate together, both for the sake of validating their bad behavior and for sharing sources of drugs.

This can be problematic for high functioning addicts who work in enabling environments. It is not uncommon for a high functioning addict to deny having a problem on the grounds that “everyone they work with uses more than they do”. This is not normal and should be a big warning sign.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is an undeniable symptom of addiction. Nausea, anxiety, headache, sweating, and fatigue are all common withdrawal symptoms.

A high functioning addict may chalk these up to mundane illness or just not being a morning person. If they become routine, however, it could be a sign of physiological dependency.

These symptoms can appear when an addict tries to get clean themselves. Aside from recovery being exceedingly difficult without treatment, withdrawal from some substances can have life-threatening complications. For this reason, the appearance of withdrawal symptoms makes it extremely urgent for the addicted person to get professional help.

Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Pastimes

This symptom goes hand-in-hand with. If someone who was once an avid musician of active community member suddenly gives up on something they were passionate about, it could be a sign that their addiction is beginning to sap all their extra time and energy.

Failing Memory

Memory issues are common in alcoholics but can occur with other forms of substance abuse as well. Addicts may experience episodes where they have either an incomplete memory or no memory whatsoever of certain moments. This should be a call to get immediate help. Loss of memory indicates that the substance abuse is already affecting a person’s normal brain functions.

Unexplained Financial Issues

Addiction doesn’t come cheap. Most addicts will end up in financial trouble, often turning to loved ones to enable them. As many high functioning addicts are seemingly successful, it’s even more obvious.

If someone with a well-paying job and few major expenses frequently finds themselves in financial trouble, it’s clear that something is going on behind the scenes. It may be that as an addiction becomes unmanageable, they are beginning to fall behind financially.

Neglecting Responsibilities

This sign tends to appear as an addict loses their ability to function. Once the addiction becomes the center of their life, an addict will often begin to shirk their responsibilities.

This is easy to spot in a high functioning addict. A formerly focused and motivated individual will begin shirking work, financial responsibilities, and familial obligations.

Getting Help for a Functioning Addict

As with all forms of addiction, the most important thing is to remember that a high functioning addict is not a lost cause. With love, support, and treatment, recovery is possible. Visit our blog to learn more about addiction and recovery.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-433-2254.

8 Steps to Take When Your Spouse Displays Abusive Alcoholic Behavior

what not to say to an alcoholic abusive alcoholic behavior

Marriage is such a beautiful part of life. It changes your life plans for the better, turning individual goals and ideas into thoughts of planting roots and starting a family. It’s exciting, supportive, and of course, incredibly loving.

Sometimes, though, people change after “I do’s” are said; the story starts to change for the worse. Your spouse may become distant, begin to spend more time out of the house or show less interest in you while at home.

In the worst of cases, he or she becomes abusive. This often happens with alcoholics. Although alcoholism and abuse don’t necessarily cause one another, they tend to correlate.

If the person you love has been picking up the bottle a lot lately and putting their hands on you too, it’s time to take action. Here are a few steps you can take to solve the abusive alcoholic behavior happening in your home.

1. Distance Yourself When They Drink

The best thing you can do for yourself when living with an abusive alcoholic is to create distance. Spend more time out of the house instead of going straight home after work. Fill your schedule on the weekends so you don’t leave yourself available to the alcoholism and verbal abusive happening at home.

As effective as this can be, it’s much easier said than done. After all, it’s your home too! Not to mention, you probably still care about your spouse even with the issues they’re dealing with and putting on you.

But, the point is to take care of yourself first. Taking the space you need to avoid a verbal attack or physical confrontation helps you start the healing process. From there, you can better assess the situation between the two of you and figure out how to deal with an abusive alcoholic wife or husband.

2. Talk to Them When They’re Sober

What happens if you come home in the middle of your spouse’s drinking activities? Distance yourself somewhere within the home to avoid the abuse that may come your way. Try not to say or do anything that will set them off either.

The best thing to do is wait out the effects of the alcohol. Then, start a conversation with your spouse when he or she is sober.

Watch Your Words

As you sit down to talk about the alcoholism, be careful of what you say. The last thing you want to do is bring out the abusive tendencies your partner has taken on.

Instead, try to create a safe space for the both of you. This is one in which the other person doesn’t feel threatened or attacked for their behavior. Such a setting also protects you from the insecurity and shame that can cause abuse.

Try Not to Place Blame

Confronting an abusive alcoholic about the pain they’re causing you is like poking at a sleeping bear. You don’t know what will be the thing that sets them off.

One subject is definitely off limits, though. You can’t place blame. This is sure to send your spouse into a whirlwind of intense emotions and make them act out.

3. Avoid Ultimatums

Another subject to avoid is an ultimatum. Sometimes, partners of abusive alcoholics threaten to leave or get a divorce if the other person won’t clean up their act.

This may sound reasonable enough to you. But to the other person, it can feel like they’re put in a corner – and they’ll do anything to get out. Offering an ultimatum is pretty much a sure-fire way to experience even more abuse.

If you do feel like leaving or a divorce is the right answer, make the proper preparations before bringing it up. You should be ready to walk out the door and not look back. Maybe even make arrangements to have other people present when telling your partner about your decision.

4. Protect Your Children and Pets

Speaking of other people, consider the safety of your children and pets. As heartbreaking as abusive alcoholic behavior can be within a marriage, it’s just as scarring on little kids or household animals.

Separate them from the situation as much as possible. Put your kids in after-school activities and send them to grandma’s house on the weekends. Also, consider giving away your pets or at least having them watched by someone else for a little while.

5. Throw Out All the Alcohol in the House

It’s a good idea to get yourself and the other people you care about out of the house. But, the first thing you should actually get rid of is all the alcohol.

Clean out the adult cabinet and do a search for any hiding spots. Remember, alcoholics will do anything for a drink so they tend to have more than one stash lying around. Find them and get rid of them.

Keep in mind this may result in a violent verbal or physical outbreak. If you think this is the case, get the alcohol out then get yourself out ASAP.

6. Ask Your Spouse to Spend a Few Days Away

While you’re weighing your options of where to go to get out of the house, consider the alternative. Why should you be the one to leave if your spouse is the one causing problems in the home?

If you can, kick them out. The thing about this is that it can end up in a serious outbreak if you aren’t careful. You may have to trick your spouse into going away.

Take a drive with them and drop them off at their friend’s place. Invite his/her friends over for an outing and have them help you check this person into rehab instead. These measures may sound extreme, but they’re best for the safety of everyone involved.

Attempting to kick your spouse out alone could backfire. Still, continuing to coexist with them – along with their alcoholism and their abusive tendencies – is not good for anyone, either.

7. Stop Ignoring the Issue

You may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when figuring out how to live with an alcoholic husband or wife. But, this is no reason to let the problem continue to grow.

The more you keep yourself from taking action, the worse the problem will get. Even if you’re afraid, unsure, or just plain tired, you have to do something.

Begin with baby steps if you have to. Seek treatment for yourself, then figure out how to help the person you married. You may need medical attention for the physical abuse you’ve undergone, and definitely some sort of emotional support for verbal abuse.

There are support groups available for victims of abuse. You can also look for a therapist to talk to or reach out to a friend or family member who’s dealt with something like this before.

Little by little, you will start to heal, which sets the foundation for you to help your spouse recover as well. Who knows, your marriage may even turn around completely.

8. Seek Professional Help

Just as you need support to confront the pain alcoholism and abuse have caused you, you should look into professional help for your spouse as well. The two of you can’t come out of this situation alone. You need the right professionals to guide you through such a dark time.

So, who do you call first? The cops for abuse and domestic violence? A withdrawal and recovery center for alcoholism?

That’s a decision only you can make, but you do have to decide. If you feel like you’re stuck with your spouse out of fear, legal authorities may be your safest way out. If you still want to mend your marriage and get back to a better place, rehab is your best bet.

There are a few other things to think about. You could try hosting an intervention for your spouse before sending them off to rehab. There’s also a non-emergency police line you can call to have an officer come to your home and escort your spouse out.

Whatever you decide, though, do it with your safety in mind. As much as you may care about your husband or wife, you have to watch out for yourself, too.

When Enough Is Enough: Changing Abusive Alcoholic Behavior for Good

Maybe you’ve tried some of the methods of dealing with abusive alcoholic behavior already. Maybe this problem has only started to happen recently and you want to stop it as soon as possible.

Either way, there is hope for better days to come. Alcoholism recovery is possible for your spouse, and finding the spark in your marriage again is possible for the two of you.

It will take much effort on both ends. Recovery isn’t easy and it takes a lot out of the alcoholic as well as the people they care about. But, it’s worth the work.

Click here to put your spouse – and your marriage – on a better path.

What Not to Say to an Alcoholic (And Some Better Alternatives)

what not to say to an alcoholic

You know that someone in your life has a serious problem with alcohol.

You want them to get help.

However, you just don’t know how you should talk to them about it — and you’re terrified of saying the wrong thing.

In this post, we’ll cover what not to say to an alcoholic.

From accusing them of destroying your own happiness to telling them that you don’t think they have a problem, we’ll help you to better understand how to deal with an alcoholic.

By the end, we’re confident that you’ll have the tools you need to convince the person you care about to get help.

Don’t Say “You’re Ruining My Life”

If you’re living with an alcoholic, it’s easy to feel like the poor choices they make are destroying your own sanity.

In some cases, their alcoholism may even be causing you professional, personal, or financial problems. Sometimes, you can’t help but want to let them know that they’re responsible for your unhappiness.

However, saying this phrase comes in at number one on our list of what not to say to an alcoholic.

First of all, if you do decide to say this, be aware that it’s probably not going to get the reaction you were hoping for.

The alcoholic isn’t going to suddenly turn around, tell you that you’re right, apologize, pay you back all the money they owe you, and jump right into rehab without a fight.

It just doesn’t work as neatly as that.

You need to remember that denial is a huge part of someone’s personal battle with alcoholism. They’re likely to react incredibly defensively. They may even attack you, cutting you down and bringing up your personal insecurities and the way they think you’ve failed them.

In order to avoid that kind of emotional pain — and the very real possibility of a physical fight, especially if they’re drunk — it’s best tnot to use this phrase.

So, what can you say instead?

Try “I Miss the Ways We Used to Spend Time Together”

This takes the blame away from the alcoholic. Regardless of what you feel, it’s what will take to get them to actually listen to what you’re saying.

Plus, it makes your conversation less of an attack on their character and a serious guilt trip, and more of a longing for the “better times.”

Trust us when we tell you that the alcoholic is very likely missing the way things used to be as well. They just might worry that they’ve already completely destroyed their relationship with you.

This phrase is an excellent tool to use in learning how to deal with alcoholism when it comes to a friend or family member because it reminds them just how much they mean to you.

If they do decide to seek treatment in the future, they’ll remember that you said this. They may even come to you to ask for your assistance in getting help.

Write out a letter about your favorite old activities, an inside joke, or even just highlight a favorite personality trait of theirs. This is an amazing reminder that you care and that you’re still here for them.

Don’t Say “You Don’t Actually Have a Drinking Problem”

When you love someone who struggles with drinking, it can be difficult for you to accept what they’re going through.

You might even feel like their out of control drinking is all your fault. As much as alcoholics want to live in the land of denial, sometimes, the people close to them do that too.

But denying that they actually have a problem — or just telling them to “cut back a little bit” — is exactly what not to say to an alcoholic.

First of all, the alcohol addict has probably already tried and failed to control their drinking several times over. The goal, especially if you want them to accept help, is to get them to admit that not only do they have a real problem but also that they no longer have the power to control it.

So, this kind of denial isn’t doing anyone any favors. It’s also rooted in selfishness.

When you’re honest with yourself, phrases like this point to your concern that the person is going to change too much, or that you’ll lose out on a fun buddy to go out with.

Will you still want to hang out with your friend once they’ve gotten sober?

You need to stop making their addiction about your wants and insecurities.

Instead, you need to help them to celebrate the next phase in their life. We suggest that you sign up for local Al-Anon meetings to connect with other people who are in a situation like your own.

Try “How Can I Help You Find the Help You Need?”

This phrase is a perfect example of how to reason with an alcoholic.

First of all, it doesn’t offer any judgment, but it’s still a subtle confirmation that, yes, you’ve noticed that they seem to have lost control of their drinking lately.

It also establishes you as a reliable and immediate support system. The indication that they’ve opened up to you already about their struggle with drinking shows that they place a high amount of trust in you.

After you say this, you’ll need to have both the time and emotional bandwidth to stand behind your words.

Make sure that you’re truly ready to offer help. This means researching local rehab centers, helping them to tell other people in their life, or even being the person to drive them to a center.

Above all, if an alcoholic opens up to you about their addiction, be respectful and discreet.

This isn’t a subject for gossip. You should only tell others if you feel the addict’s life is in danger, if you know someone has been through something similar, or if the addict has asked you to.

Don’t Say “Rehab Is Going to Turn You into a Completely Different Person”

We’ll keep this one short and sweet.

The goal of rehab is to help the alcoholic to get back to who they were before they started boozing.

It’s not to make them someone they’re not and never have been.

Instead, it’s designed to help them beat these addiction demons and get their lives back on track. They won’t become a “new” person. Instead, they’ll become the best version of themselves.

While in rehab, the addict in your life will learn about several coping mechanisms. They’ll have to confront very real — and very difficult — past issues and even traumas in their lives.

They may even have to start using medication like antidepressants. Most of all, they’ll need to commit to a completely sober lifestyle.

None of this means that the addict inside of them is dead. It can return at any time. As someone playing a supporting role in their recovery, it’s up to you to help them to keep the urge to use at bay.

This will require some serious love and sacrifice on your part. Make sure that you’re really ready for it.

Try “I’m Proud of You and I’ll Be Here for You When You Get Out”

You need to keep in mind that someone doesn’t magically stop becoming an alcoholic just because they’ve successfully completed treatment.

They’ll need lots of love and support once they get out of the insular environment of rehab.

The transition back into the real, sober world can sometimes be harrowing for addicts. Often, this is what ends up causing them to relapse.

Make it clear that you’ll be there to support them through every stage of their journey. You can offer them a place to stay when they get out, or even just invite them to hang out with you and your friends.

You have no idea what kind of a difference even a small gesture like this could make.

What Not to Say to an Alcoholic: Next Steps

We know that understanding how to deal with alcoholism can be a serious challenge.

Above all, we hope you take this list of what not to say to an alcoholic into consideration before you decide to begin a difficult and incredibly important conversation.

If you know that someone in your life needs help, you can rely on us.

Spend some time on our website and blog to learn more about how we can help to make that happen for the addict that you care about.

Reach out to us today to get started!

Enabling and Empowering

Earlier this fall, we shared about enabling and how this act can prolong a fight with substance abuse. The opposite of enabling is empowering. When you feel empowered, you gain self-confidence, determination and possess a better attitude.

Many of our clients have shared stories about how, when they are in their addiction, they are powerless against the cravings for drugs or alcohol. The need for more guides their lives at all costs. One client recently spoke to a group of high school students and explained to them how the desire for drugs can take over and ruin your life. This desire makes you not care about school, work, your family and friends…all things that most people highly value.

Now in recovery, the client explained how she feels empowered without the presence of drugs in her life. She is rebuilding relationships; she is making and achieving goals. With each accomplishment, she feels more and more confident and determined.

While you may feel like you are helping your loved one when you enable them, this will do more harm than good. Encourage them to get treatment; to become empowered.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Three substance abuse myths

Our society is full of myths and the internet and social media seems to those at a faster rate than ever before. The same is true of substance abuse – there are many myths about this disease.

Drugabuse.com has a list of 10 common myths. Today we’ll look at three.

1 – Addiction is a moral failure 
We cannot deny that the use of an illicit drug is a poor decision. The expression “curiosity killed the cat” somewhat applies – for many, the curiosity of what it feels like to drink or experience the high of a drug is very tempting. Many will try a drug once and never again, their curiosity has been satisfied. Others will use again, but opt not to make it part of their lifestyle. Finally, there will be a group that becomes hooked on the drug. Is this a moral failure?

Millions of individuals became dependent on and addicted to the medications prescribed to them by their physician. This is certainly not a moral failure.

Addiction is caused by the body’s inability to process the drug/alcohol. The body becomes dependent on the substance causing severe withdrawal when the substance is not present.

2 – Addicts are easy to identify
Stereotyping has given people a certain image of those with an addiction. Many people envision the homeless man carrying his drink in a brown paper bag, minorities and criminals as the groups of people who they associate as addicts.

In reality, substance abuse impacts all socio economic groups and races. The CDC reports that rates of use among non-Hispanic whites nearly double all other groups. While not all individuals with a substance use disorder are criminals, criminal activity is often fueled by the need to get drugs. Finally, individuals making between $20,000 and $49,000 are showing rates of use that are higher than those who make less than $20,000.

3 – Relapse is a failure
Many people believe that because a person has relapse, they have failed. In reality, relapse is often part of the recovery process – see related blog.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.